County addresses gun violence as public health issue

Los Angeles County's 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger speaks at her inaugural State of the County address at the Hyatt. County supervisors are looking to change the way L.A. County responds to gun violence, by treating it as a public health issue. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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County supervisors are looking to change the way L.A. County responds to gun violence, by treating it as a public health issue.

A unanimously approved motion introduced by 3rd District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and Mark Ridley-Thomas of the 2nd District, adds more control on guns in the county and starts a plan to create an Office of Violence Prevention.

The Department of Public Health and the county’s CEO Sachi Hamai have 90 days to create the plan that outlines staffing and resources need to create the new office. The plan will also look at the possibility of expanding the responsibility of the Injury and Violence Prevention Program.

A survey is included in the plan, listing five specific gun regulations that some cities in the county have already adopted but haven’t been implemented countywide, to see which could be adopted by the county, according to Kuehl.

An amendment added by 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger would expand the survey to include a list of all gun stores in the county, as well as a list of all current state gun control laws.

“Violence prevention is certainly a worthy endeavor and must be looked at,” Barger said during the board’s Tuesday meeting. “I welcome the efforts set forth in this motion. However, I believe we are missing a critical piece of the puzzle.

“I think it’s important to realize some of the inconsistencies in state law so that we can appropriately achieve our shared goals of violence prevention.”

Barger points out the disconnect in the states gun laws, where the state has created laws that regulate guns and ammo, but has removed requirements to increase sentences for felonies committed with a firearm.

“There are critical safeguards that the county can adopt, which strengthen our effort to help ensure our schools and communities are safe from violence.” explained Tony Bell, a spokesman for Kathryn Barger. “However, this report should include a thorough examination of whether existing state gun control and violence prevention laws are being adequately enforced.”

The motion comes after a nationwide discuss on gun control started with the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and a day before a national school walkout day. Students in Santa Clarita will participate in the walkout, calling for a change in the country.

The full motion can be viewed online on the Board of Supervisors agenda item.

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